Families of S’wak hostages gave RM12 mil to police

PETALING JAYA: The families of four Sarawakians who were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in April gave RM12 million they raised for the men’s ransom to the police.

The Star Online quoted Lau Cheng Kiong, the uncle of the one of the hostages, Johnny Lay Jung Hien as saying the money was handed to the Special Branch in Sandakan, Sabah, on May 24.

According to Lau, the money was handed in the form of 12 Hong Leong Bank cheques of RM1 m each, between 4pm and 6pm that day.

“All the money raised had been handed to them (police) and we did not keep a single sen,” he was quoted as saying.

Lau said the family had chosen to speak out in a bid to clarify the matter as donors and members of the public had been asking them what happened to the money raised.

Those seeking clarification can look for the Special Branch and Hong Leong Bank in Sandakan, he added.

As for the breakdown of the funds handed over, RM9 m was donated by individuals, RM1 m was raised from the mortgage on two family houses in Pulau Li Hua, while the remaining RM2 m came from the shipping company the four worked for, said Cheng Kiong.

According to Lau, the families’ public appeal via Facebook got positive responses from as far as Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and China, with those who donating large sums preferring to remain anonymous, he said.

Bukit Aman Special Branch director Commissioner Mohamad Fuzi Harun however declined to comment despite earlier news reports that no ransom had been paid to the captors.

The four were kidnapped on April 1 and released last Tuesday night after multiple negotiations between the militants and Malaysian and Filipino authorities.